Category Archives: Duke Basketball

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Allen and Jones Talk Duke vs Oregon

9a87d330-44d1-4e05-aa58-20f3664f10acDuke players Grayson Allen and Matt Jones addressed the media in Anaheim earlier today.

Q. Matt and Grayson, your coach said that Marshall is one of the most important players on this team. How has his leadership really helped you guys throughout the NCAA Tournament and before?

MATT JONES: For me Marshall's our anchor, especially on the defensive end. For a guard to hear your big man call out the screens, kind of call out the coverage, it helps you a lot. He gives us ultimate confidence. More times than not, Marshall's the biggest player on the court. So to have the biggest player on the court on your side, you definitely want that.

GRAYSON ALLEN: He's done a great job being our emotional leader. He plays with a lot of fire down there. He makes plays that are effort plays, ripping down rebounds, coming over and blocking shots. Then he shows his emotion and it really fires us up and brings us all energy.

Q. Looking at online pictures of the hotel you guys are staying in, it seems a little castle-esque. I was just curious to your reaction? If it's a little different from where you guys have been staying this year?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It reminded me -- I'm from Florida, so it reminded me as a little kid going to Disney and staying in one of those hotels because that's pretty much what it is. It's a little different. It brings back memories of your childhood definitely.

MATT JONES: Yeah, it is different, like G says. I like the fact that Disneyland is right across the street or whatever. But it's different.

Q. Coach said that your ankle, I guess, is not quite 100% healed from the North Carolina game. I was curious if that was what was bothering you against Yale or if that's something that continues to wear on you?
MATT JONES: It's something that I just try to take care of day by day. Some days hurt more than others. But against Yale, I just had a bad game. Luckily my teammates were there, like always, to pick me up.

But as far as my ankle goes, it's something that's tolerable. At this point everybody's going through something, so I just had to get through it.

Q. I don't know how much you guys have had a chance to watch Oregon at all. I noticed a lot against Saint Joseph's they pressed a lot and that's kind of what you struggled with against Providence. How much have you seen and what is your takeaway with their athleticism?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, we've definitely watched a lot of film on them. We don't get to see as much of them during the regular season because of West Coast and East Coast, but we have seen a lot of film. They're a very athletic team, and that's what makes their press good. They have athletic guys. They have a lot of size out there on the court with four guys around the same height. So for us we just have to be sharp and handle the press. Like he said, we didn't handle it well against Yale, but hopefully that will be a learning experience and we'll be better.

Q. This is basically a follow-up to the last question: What challenges either in terms of individual match-ups or tactics does Oregon pose for you individually and collectively?
GRAYSON ALLEN: They're a very athletic team. You look at them and you could argue they're one of the most athletic teams in the country with a combination of size and just athleticism they put on the court. Their guys attack you. So offensively they can really spread the floor, at times go five out, and that's tough for most teams to guard the way they can take guys off the dribble, kickout, and almost all their guys can hit threes. It's a tough team to defend.

Then defensively with the lineup that they do have out there, it allows them to switch a lot of stuff because they all can guard similar positions. That's a tough team when you have versatile players like that.

MATT JONES: Kind of like what G says. They can attack us, like we try to attack others with four guards, and very athletic big men. Like G said, their athleticism can really affect people, and the way they play, they play really hard. They're very well coached. So we just have to try to match their intensity.

Q. Grayson, there are a bunch of big-name programs that play in this tournament every year, Kansas, Carolina, Kentucky, but it seems like when people see Duke it inspires maybe some extra strong feelings. Have you guys experienced that? And do you have any thoughts on maybe why that is?
GRAYSON ALLEN: At this point in the Tournament, Sweet Sixteen, it doesn't matter who you are, you're going to get the other team's best. Doesn't matter if you're Duke or whoever you are. At this point I don't think that's a factor for the other team. We know when we go to gyms that there is going to be a section of Duke fans, a section of Oregon fans, and then everyone else is rooting against us, so we're okay with that.

Q. If you could both answer this: Among the teams left in the Tournament you are among the lower-scoring second-half teams. To what do you attribute that? Is it even worrisome to you at all?
MATT JONES: I don't think it's worrisome. We've proven time and time throughout the year that we can score the ball, no matter the half. Obviously we haven't had, like you said, the second halves that we would like, but we're fortunate to have another game to where we can try to put a complete game together, first and second half. So as far as scoring the ball goes, that's not really our problem. We've been fortunate about that. We just have to get stops.

GRAYSON ALLEN: For us, we just need to stay in attack mode the whole game. We have a lot of scorers on our team, and with that we have guys that come out to hot starts. Luke and Brandon can really just get going early. So for us, we just have to fight through the little break at halftime and come out in the second half attacking the same way.

Q. I believe Yale had 20 offensive rebounds, scored 21 second-chance points. How important will it be tomorrow to be physical with Oregon and keep them off the glass?
GRAYSON ALLEN: It will be very important, especially with their athleticism, and they send a lot of guys after the glass three, four, sometimes five guys. In the St. Joe's game they got a big bucket at the end off an offensive rebound, so we know that's going to be key. It's been one of our weaknesses, but we want to try to make it a strength for us, defensive rebounding, and really limit second-chance opportunities.

MATT JONES: Yeah, like G said, that's one of their strengths. But like I said earlier, we're fortunate enough to have another game. Anything can happen. We can come out and have our best rebounding game. So we just have to focus on that and focus on our game plan.

Q. Matt, how much during the course of the season do you refer to what happened to last year and the experience you guys had? Because you're in a place where you've all been before. You've experienced the highest you can get, and Oregon's still trying to break through to that level. How much does last year's experience help you?
MATT JONES: It helps a lot. We have guys that have been here before, so obviously we can take that experience and just make sure that the younger guys know it's going to be a different atmosphere. The first and second round was good, but it's nothing like Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight kind of atmosphere.

So we have to make sure that they're tuned into what we need to do. Make sure they're focused on the game plan and just to have fun. Because at the end of the day, it's just a game. If they have fun and be themselves, we should be all right.

Q. Oregon as a program in general, what have you guys made of their ascension as a program since Dana Altman arrived in 2010?
GRAYSON ALLEN: Yeah, he's done a great job. You can tell they're a very well-coached team and they're very talented as well. It's a credit to him doing a great job recruiting. Look at the team they have, they have a combination of young guys. Dorsey is a really good freshman and older guys as well. So to have that combination, I mean, he's doing a good job there.

MATT JONES: I think what really impresses me is how hard they play. They play together. You can tell that they're comfortable with each other, and that's a credit to their coaching.

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Coach K Speaks from Anaheim

ee26f9bc-f7bc-4fcc-bc48-22a6aa09e464Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski addressed the media earlier today in Anaheim, California.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Thank you. It's great to be in Anaheim, and great to be in the Sweet Sixteen. I'm proud of our team. They've done a great job for us this year. Young, kind of limited in numbers, but they've really grown tough together and have earned their way here.

Health-wise, we're as healthy as we can be right now, and obviously Amile Jefferson is out for the year. Matt's still, when he sprained his ankle against North Carolina in the final regular-season game, he's not -- actually, he sprained it a little bit again in North Carolina, he sprained it in that first one. He hasn't yet completely recovered, but he's good enough to go, so we're ready to go.

Q. I believe I read that Duke is 0-4 in the Pacific time zone. How much have you thought about that and considered that entering this game?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's interesting with ESPN, every time I look at the ticker, it's something we haven't done. So we've won 90 games in the NCAA. Yeah, I've never been one to look at what I do on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or whatever. I've looked at what we've done cumulative. So it's our 23rd Sweet Sixteen. We've been in 116 NCAA games, and we're honored like crazy to be in here. I really don't think it makes a damn bit of difference what we've done on the West Coast before. If we started to compete because of Mondays, Tuesdays and West Coast, I don't think we ever would have had five National Championships and 12 Final Fours.

So I don't know, that's probably a longer answer than you might want, but that's the way I look at those things. I think they don't mean a damn thing. Who we play now means a lot, and who we have to play at that time means a lot.

Q. What's it been like coaching the Plumlees? How are they different personality-wise from each other? What is your perspective of what went into his decision to go into the army when basketball is done?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Coaching the Plumlees has been terrific because all three of them are outstanding guys and really good players. Each of them improved. I think the youngster who has improved the most is the one I have right now in Marshall. But athletically Miles and Mason are terrific. Marshall's a really good athlete, but he's made himself a really good player.

They come to work every day and they're great team guys, so we're going to miss them. I'm mad at Perky and Leslie for not having more. But imagine three seven-footers in one family, and what a great family. But we've benefited greatly from that. Have I missed --

Q. Your perspective of his decision to go into the army?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well, he got turned on to the military well over -- almost two years ago. One of my former players, Bob Brown from West Point is a three-star general, and he met him. And Marty Dempsey, who is the former Chair of the Joint Chiefs. Bob invited him down to Fort Benning when he was in command at one of the units there and had him participating, and Marshall loved it. They've created an opportunity for him with ROTC at Duke.

He's already graduated. He's in graduate school, where if he does have the opportunity to play professionally, he could be in the Reserves, and then whenever professional basketball would stop, he would want to be in the service of our country.

I'm really proud of Marshall. Marshall's been our most important player, and I think the military stuff has really helped him in that regard.

Q. Could you just talk about what you've seen out of Oregon, and is that a team that as the season went on they moved up the rankings as you've seen them? Have you seen much of them coming through?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: We don't watch -- you know, we watch our own neighborhood. And even then you don't watch your own neighborhood unless you're going to play them, so you watch your conference. I know -- actually, Josh Jamison who is on the staff used to work with Kyle Singler, so we've known the Oregon program.

Dana, obviously, is an outstanding coach. What I have learned a lot in watching them now is just how athletic they are. They basically have seven starters, and they play off each other really well. They rebound. They play with a great verve. They're a unique team because they don't necessarily have that traditional low-post presence. One of their better three-point shooters is their top shot blocker, and I'm not sure that anybody has that. So they're unique in that regard.

But they share the ball well. They play hard, and they won an outstanding conference. To win the Pac-12 this year, the Pac-12 was really good, and for them to win shows just how good they were for the whole season.

Q. Talking about Oregon, now that you've had a little chance to look at them more, is there any team with their athleticism in the ACC or on your schedule that they remind you of at all?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: A little bit of Miami. Miami has that depth of athleticism and old and a little bit. But they're unique. Jekiri doesn't shoot threes. Boucher and Bell, they can score and they protect the basket real well. There are not many teams that can be wide athletically where you can do that and play up and down, too. In other words, they block shots.

So that's one of the things that makes them so tough is they can be so athletic going side-to-side, and if they do get beat, they have two guys who protect the basket really well. So it makes it more difficult to score against them.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the challenges that Dillon Brooks should present?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, well he's, I think, their best player. Probably as versatile a player as I've seen. I'm not saying "the most" because Brogdon we've seen a lot. But he's in that category of just really versatile because he does everything. He rebounds, he defends, he can hit threes, he gets fouled. He does everything.

He's the match-up that I think a lot of teams have had problems with, and Dana does a great job of putting him in a position where he can take advantage of match-ups. I think they do a really good job of that. He's a tough match-up for us.

Q. The other three teams in the Tournament are senior-oriented and you're clearly the youngest team here. Is that relevant when you get to this point?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, it is. We have three kids of our seven who are 18, but they've also played 35 games, so they're an old 18. They're almost 19. Then we played in, I think, the conference that top to bottom was the best in the country this year. So you learn by winning and losing and being in those situations.

I'm really proud of my guys for what they've accomplished thus far, but I'm also on them to do more. We believe that we can do more. That's something with youth -- youth believes it has endless opportunities. People who are older or players who are older know that this might be their only opportunity, their last opportunity. So we hope that what Marshall can bring in bringing that sense of urgency to the younger guys, it's helped and hopefully the message will still resonate with the rest of the team.

Q. In an era where all kids love Steph Curry, how do you remind your guys to not necessarily play like Steph Curry?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: No, I'd like them to play like -- I've coached Steph twice, and if they can play like that, that would be cool, man. It would be a lot better.

I think Steph is a great example of preparation and consistent preparation and love of the game. You see it manifested in his talents and what he does. But the preparation that he has and the attitude that he has on a day-to-day basis to do his best are amazing examples for kids. I think he's an amazing example for constant improvement, constant love of the game, constant hunger to show that he can do it again, never satisfied, all those things are alive and well with Steph Curry. Those are great examples for our guys to watch. So we like when they watch him.

Q. Coach, last night at Staples Center after the Lakers' game Kobe Bryant was talking about the one-and-done rule and saying he didn't think it made any sense. I know you've expressed opinions in the past, voicing your displeasure about that rule. Also. Kind of a two-part question: How has that rule affected the way you build a team? And two, short of changing the rule, Adam Silver spoke last night and kind of made it sound like he wasn't in favor of changing it --
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, he is in favor. He's come out and said two years.

Q. Right. But he said at the same time he recognizes the reality that kids have to make a living and stuff. So it kind of sounded like it wasn't going to change. So given that, and given that they've kind of dropped any pretense that college basketball is kind of a farm system for the NBA, do you feel there is anything that the NBA could do to help make the situation workable for you guys?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Well, I think the NBA has tried. It's not just the NBA, it's the players' union. It comes about in the collective bargaining agreement, and so both parties have to come to grips with what's good for them. You know, when they're looking at things, they should be looking at what's good for them. Then what the NCAA should have is somebody, a face who is in charge of college basketball who would meet with the head of the players' union, who would meet with Adam Silver and express the concerns of our collegiate community and work in concert.

The fact that we don't have anybody like that and have never had anybody like that, we pay a price for that because then we don't give them input. They don't have the feedback that they need to have to help make maybe decisions that would help us.

It is what it is. I personally would like to see if a kid is good enough to go right out of high school because they have a dog's life. They're not doctors, lawyers and coaches and people, writers who can write forever and coach forever. They do it in about a 12-to-15-year span. So if you're that good, if you were in entertainment, you'd already have stuff out there. If you were in tennis, if you were in a bunch of different sports, you'd be out there. But if not, I'd like to see them stay for two years because then they can gain the maturity and be halfway towards a degree. But that won't happen. We're going to go with what it is.

To build a team is more difficult. Although the guys that don't get a one-and-done player would say, man, I'd like to have that one-and-done player. I would tell you this, the one-and-done from high school is not the story of college basketball. The one-and-done with the fifth-year graduate player is what is the main story for college basketball. There are many, many more of those. And that's hurt a lot of our mid-major programs when these kids leave and go. Many, many more. Very few one-and-done from high school, very few compared to that.

Q. We all know what Grayson Allen has done on the court and the improvement he's made. But how much has he improved as a leader this season?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: The main way he leads is how he plays. This kid comes every day and he's as good a competitor as there is in college basketball. He's a great kid. He works that hard in practice, but he also works that hard in the classroom. He's an Academic All-American, a great teammate. So it doesn't surprise me the success that he's had. He's just a balanced, balanced kid. I love him.

Q. You've had your fair share of one-and-dones as of late, and I can see this being kind of a tricky time of year for them, obviously with the most important games in their college careers and the huge life changes that are just around the corner. In your experience with these kind of players, have you ever taken them aside and sort of checked in on them and seen how they're handling what is a pretty daunting period?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Do I talk to them?

Q. No, specifically about that?
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, you talk specifically about a guy being a senior, a guy ending his career, yeah. You never let the obvious go unsaid. So before we start postseason, I sat down with Brandon and said, "How are you? You're going to be a first or second pick or whatever they're saying, how does that affect you?" To let them know that that will happen, and he'll be all right no matter what are. So just go for it.
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He's fine. He's not looking ahead. He's been beautiful. Brandon Ingram has been unbelievable. He works hard and he's played well. The pros are not even on his mind. He just loves to play basketball, and that's good. Sometimes a kid in this situation can feel pressure and not perform or rationalize and look ahead where he may not fight until the end. That hardly ever happens with us, but that can happen.

With Brandon, if we lose here, it won't be because of that. It will just be because the other team played better, the kid he guarded played better.

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Duke vs Oregon X-Factors

c2d3b563-b2dd-46dd-aacf-17d8b936dca1A variable in a given situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome is referred to as an X-Factor.   Guessing what these possible anomalies are is not an easy task, but we'll give it a try.

When talking about Oregon and how they have progressed this season, it doesn't take long for Tyler Dorsey to come up.  You may have read my Oregon preview where I said it's hard to try to shut down the Ducks by concentrating on one player and I stand by that. But if there is a player who could go off, it may be Dorsey who will be playing in front of family members and friends galore. The reason for so many backers is that Dorsey is a Los Angeles native.

Dorsey is a long, 6-4 guard who was recruited by Duke.  He eventually chose the Ducks in that they would use him as a shooting guard, where the Blue Devils had eyes on him to run the point.  More often than not, players like to step up against those who recruited them and Dorsey can do this minutes from his home town on a national stage.

In Dorsey, Oregon has a kid who I see as the possible X-Factor in this game in that he can score the ball in varying ways. It will take a solid effort from the likes of Matt Jones to contain the talented freshman.

I am going to stay with a freshman in naming the X-Factor for Duke in this game. The Blue Devils have a California native on their roster as well in Chase Jeter.  While he is in the rotation as the seventh man or second player off the bench, the make up of this contest will give him minutes.

Jeter is running his  own race with concern to development.  He is barely 18 years old and is still adjusting to the college game.  In my opinion, Jeter has a bright future at Duke and he can start his ascent with some solid minutes in his home state.

Playing in California could aid in Jeter's comfort level and his size and length could help Duke against the long and lean Ducks.  The freshman has had some key moments down the stretch this season for Duke and is quick off his feet.  With his ability to grab some timely boards and quick put backs on the offensive, his minutes could be a difference maker.

There are many more X-Factors at play when Duke takes on Oregon in Anaheim tomorrow evening.  But keep a close eye on the play of Tyler Dorsey and Chase Jeter, for their success in this game might be the edge their team needs to move to regional championship.

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Oregon – These Quackers are Tough

ducksWhen the Blue Devils take to the court in Anaheim this week, they'll be facing a very solid Oregon squad.  There will be no time change for the Ducks who will be plenty alert during an 8;00 or so start while Duke players will have to adjust their body clock.

It wasn't that long ago when a trip to Anaheim to face another PAC 12 team in Arizona, turned out to be disastrous.  Duke was returning Kyrie Irving to the court and had hopes of going to the Elite 8 but they fell apart as the Wildcats simply could not miss in the 2nd half.

The Blue Devils are a thin group and an inexperienced one with concern to the six players who get the bulk of their minutes.  It has been mentioned in an article that the Ducks play just seven players as well, but their group has been around the game longer.  And a look at minutes played shows that they clearly go eight deep -- so take note of that ESPN.

The Quackers are tough.  They are athletic and interchangeable on the defensive end.  In fact, they most impress me with their defense.  If you took a look at their most recent win, they make it tough for teams to get into their offense and seem to be everywhere with their active zone.  And they will switch up their zones late in the game to show a different look which is why they are in the Sweet 16. That means that Duke will have to zip their passes to open men and depend more on  relocating the ball than one on one drives.

Oregon is one of the hottest teams in the nation riding a ten game winning streak.  They are an impressive 30-6 on the season where they took care of business in their conference.  One comes away even more impressed when looking over their wins and losses this season.  Their worst loss may have come to Stanford.  It's safe to say Duke will be looking at that tape and that Krzyzewski may pick Johnny Dawkins brain.

The Ducks have a player Duke recruited as well in smooth operator Tyler Dorsey who is averaging 13.7 ppg.  His play is getting better and better.  Their top two scorers are Dillon Brooks and Elgin Cook and they feature a fourth double figure scorer in Chris Boucher.

As I mentioned earlier, they are deeper than Duke  and three more players in Dwayne Benjamen, Jordan Bell and Casey Benson play more than 20 minutes per game. All of these kids are good free throw shooters but you want to foul Bell at just over 50 percent if the game is on the line.

Oregon is bigger than Duke.  They are all long compared to the Blue Devils roster and that's what makes finding holes in their zone defense especially challenging.  And the Ducks feature no less than six players from California on their roster which makes for some emotional home cooking play to come.

If you are paying attention, the picture should be clear by now, that this will be a tough match up for Duke for the Blue Devils are a clear underdog.  While this site does not advocate wagering, the line has climbed from 2 to 3 in a day in favor of the Ducks.  With so many factors from home town players to being from the west coast being in their favor, expect said numbers to climb even more.

Here is the main reason it will be tough for Duke to beat Oregon. The Ducks have eight players who play big minutes and each of them has stepped up this season.  What this means is that you simply cannot concentrate on shutting down a single player and not have another one rise to the occasion.  Meanwhile, Duke looked vulnerable in their first two games of the tournament and to close out the season.

Oregon will put non stop pressure on Duke trying to exploit their ball handling.  Yale did this and the Ducks have much better athleticism to execute the same strategy.

The Ducks wasted no time in turning their attention to Duke after their win over St. Joseph's and their players were cool and confident. Much like the Arizona game where Duke lost in this same building hoping to go to the Elite 8, this will be an away game for the Blue Devils.

Nobody overlooks Duke and every team seeks the opportunity to take down a college basketball giant.  Oregon is no different and they have players playing in their back yard on their turf.  If I have made them out to be a challenge, it's because they are.

Duke is capable of winning against the odds and we'll talk about that next.  But the Duke fan base should be aware of how huge of a challenge this game will be for a team that has faced adversity all season long.

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Coach K, Allen, Ingram Talk Duke win

9d1e01a0-deaa-46a7-b581-983151bf16b6The Duke Blue Devils survived a 2nd half comeback from Yale to advance to the Sweet 16.  Here is what Coach and players had to say -

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: The tournament is crazy, and you saw two games today where all four teams won a half. Thank goodness for us, we won the last minute of the second half. We knew going into the game, we're playing a championship-level team and a team that's old, extremely well-coached and together. Everything went unbelievable for us in the first half, but I didn't think we ended the half well.

It was one of those halves where everything we shot went in. They had open looks. I think they were 1-11 from three in the first half, and we told -- I told my staff at halftime, I said, you know, we have kind of like fool's gold a little bit, in that we think we're playing better defense than we are. Because their two wings are 40 percent three-point shooters, and they didn't hit a shot, and in the second half they did.

And then Sherrod had a great game. The weight of the world was on our kids, and for a young group -- Brandon hitting those two free throws is just a magnificent play.

There can't be more pressure on him, and it's a one-and-one, and we tip the ball in to make it a three-point. I don't think they tipped it; I think we tipped it in. So it was one of those things where everything -- okay, basketball gods, what else are we going to do here now? And they put Brandon Ingram on the line, and he came through.

So we beat a heck of a team. You can't simulate that type of game pressure. And for our kids to respond -- the 1-3-1 helped us immensely, and then to hit those free throws down the stretch were terrific. And we're very proud of winning our 25th game and being a Sweet 16 team. I mean, that's a heck of a thing for this group.

Q. Just talk about -- is three-point shooting infectious? Luke hits two in a row, and the rest of the team just goes off on them.

GRAYSON ALLEN: I think for us, the three-point shot is something that can give us energy. And we do have a lot of shooters on our team where we can get hot like we did in the first half. Luke starts the day hitting his first shot, Brandon starts hitting his first shot, I hit my first shot. And it can go like that for us where guys can get hot, and I think as a team we feed off of each other when we're doing that.

Q. Brandon, can you explain, as a player, what it's like in that moment that Coach was talking about, what's going through your head as you're stepping to the line to kind of sink those free throws with pretty much the entire gym kind of going against you?

BRANDON INGRAM: What was going through my head is kind of going back to practice. Coach Scheyer yesterday made me shoot about 100 free throws from the free-throw line. I knew I was there for a reason. He put me in that position because I was going to be put in that position at the end of the game, and I just went back to my roots and tried to knock the shots down.

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: One thing about that, John did a good thing. He hit 67 in a row after going 5-10 against Wilmington. Keep shooting extra free throws. (Laughter). And keep listening to Coach Scheyer.

Q. Grayson, obviously you guys take a huge lead into the half. Your coach is obviously trying to make sure you keep that sense of urgency. Are the players talking to each other on the court amongst yourselves, trying to make sure that you don't let up and allow Yale back into that game?

GRAYSON ALLEN: We were. We were talking to each other. But at the same time, Yale is a really good team and we knew they weren't going to give up, so we knew they were going to make a run. It was just up to us to respond to that run, stay composed, stay calm, and keep playing our basketball. Start out the half, they came out hitting shots and, for us, we shouldn't let the momentum carry and stop us from playing free and playing confident.

Q. Coach K talked about how, toward the end of the first half, he sensed a little bit of fool's gold and you guys started to slow down. Did you guys on the court sense that, as well?

GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, he said it to us at halftime that those guys had gotten open looks, and they just hadn't knocked down the shots. So in the second half, we couldn't give them those open looks, and we did start to off the half, and they knocked them down. And so for us, we had to be mindful of that going through the whole second half, that those guys had just made a shot, and that gives you confidence when you make a shot. So we had to be mindful of where they were, and at the same time, try to keep Mason under control.

Q. Grayson, in that moment in the second half when there's so much pressure and you guys are trying to hold onto the lead, how much does playing at Duke help you because you guys get everybody's best shot every time. So in that moment, in that second half when everybody is kind of against you and there's that push, how much does past experience of being at Duke and having that pressure constantly help you guys as a team weather the storm?

GRAYSON ALLEN: Well, for us we had to come together. I think it was pretty similar to the ACC Tournament when we had a big lead against Notre Dame, and Notre Dame came back, but in that game we didn't come together. In this game, thankfully, we had that experience that we needed to come together as a team. Because playing against a great team like that, they're going to make a run. They're going to keep fighting, and they have guys who can really score the ball. So for us really coming together -- we had a lot of huddles in the second half to just make sure guys were composed and just ready to play.

Q. As impressive as both Wichita State's comeback in the first game and, certainly, Yale's in this game were, it's also pretty impressive -- especially for a young team like yours -- to not panic and not let that get away. Certainly from the perspective you've had -- not that you've been on the comeback end that often -- how impressive is it for a team to not lose its poise and lose the game?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: It's a great point, and you're right. Not just you, but everyone is going to write their articles, and you can say you blew a lead or whatever. Teams are -- good teams are going to get on runs, and championship teams get on runs and win, and so Yale is a championship team. They're 18-1 since Christmas. For us to weather that storm and have the wherewithal to be able to win, change the defense to 1-3-1 -- what Brandon did on top of that zone was magnificent because he shaded Mason and gave the other kids a little bit more room. So Mason never -- it wasn't just the 1-3-1, it was how he was playing it. You can't practice against that unless you have a guy who's 6'8 1/2" and a 7'3" wingspan. So you're absolutely right. I'm proud of our guys. I told them after the game, and at the last time-out, I told them how proud I was of them, because, especially in this tournament, teams lose those games. I mean, we see it -- the tournament is only -- once we get to 64, three days old. Are you kidding me? All the -- all the -- it's incredible because people always believe in miracles during this time, and they don't believe that they're ever out of it.

What that produces is miracles, or the response, tough responses like we had tonight -- well, this afternoon. I think Andy Katz asked yesterday how come there is so much parity, and I talked about championship teams. But also some of the teams that are -- Yale is not this, because they're a championship team -- but it's like free money, you know. And they don't face that during the year. So they're a championship team, and then they're expected not to win. And all of a sudden, that combination produces something in a human being, and human beings that create this type of attitude, this miracle, I can do a miracle, I can hit a shot, we can win. And it's magnificent. It's magnificent.

What we have to do, because we're expected to win no matter who we are -- age or number of players -- we have to be able to respond to that. And tonight, this afternoon -- again, I keep saying -- this afternoon, we were able to do that at the end. I'm very proud of my team for being able to do that.

Q. Obviously yesterday a lot was talked about Makai Mason. In the post game you two shared a couple moments. What did you say to him there?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, just what a magnificent year he's had. I wanted him to know I do remember you, we just recruited Tyus. But we loved him. One of the things we loved about him was his relationship with his father. And it's produced something deep, a love for the game, a belief in yourself to go along with his talents. That's what I told him is you should tell your dad, thank you, because the two of you have been a great team to make you a great player.

Q. Coaches write keys on the white board before the game. Which of your pregame keys do you feel Duke won?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Just more points than them. That was the main thing. It's obviously we didn't rebound very well, but we knew we were going to get open shots. And we told our guys -- a big key for the game was to be ready to shoot. And against Wilmington, Wilmington pressed, and they created this full-court thing where you were more catch-and-dribble. Yale plays good defense, but they give you a little bit of room. And although it's good man, you've got to be careful where it doesn't stand you up.

So a key to the ballgame was be ready to shoot, and our guys were. We did that extremely well, and it negated -- we were able to overcome the rebounding differential as a result of that. And that's what we have to do anyway. We're not going to be that much better at rebounding. But when those three kids score, 67 of our 71 points are from three kids, so when Luke joins those other two, we become a little bit better.

Q. Would Brandon have had that confidence, do you think, to do what he did today earlier in the season, or is this a product of an outgrowth of experience at a young age?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, he's continued to get better. He works all the time, and we work with him. We try to put him in situations where he can use his instincts. He'll go and shoot on his own and whatever. I said, don't just shoot. I said, like, try to -- when you're doing it by yourself -- and we do it when we're working with him -- just create a shot, like you're good enough to create shots. And then if you hit them, someone is going to say that I taught you that. And so we put that in his mind that it's okay to kind of be you.

He's gotten better and better. He deserves that. He's not a plant that should be put in a jar. He's a plant that should be allowed to grow, and he's growing immensely.

Q. I believe it's your 23rd trip to the Sweet 16. My question is, can you really appreciate this group for how hard they had to work to get to this one?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, I think I appreciate it more than anybody because I've said it since Amile went out that we might not make the tournament. Chase has started to play well this last month, but basically we're a six-man team. Chase and Brandon aren't going to be 19 until next September. They're 18 years old. Derryck is 18. So I have an unbelievable appreciation for it. That's why, Grayson carrying us a lot, and then Marshall Plumlee has been as valuable a guy as we've had because he's played all these minutes. And when -- he didn't have a good scoring night tonight, but he played well.

Our house is on a cliff, and we hope it doesn't rain. That's who we've been. And so I really have an appreciation for that.

And you know, it's not what the teams that I've coached have done. It's what this team is doing, it being their moment. I've coached a lot of -- I've coached more NCAA games than anybody. And I'll tell you what, I don't know if -- probably shouldn't watch me very much -- but if you did, you'd see a very excited and emotional coach, who looks -- not age-wise or physique-wise -- like he was when he was the coach at Army. And that's what each of my teams deserve from me and my staff is that level of commitment.

Q. You've talked throughout the year of the importance of face, of how you come off, on the court and off the court. Toward the end of the first half, when there was a 6-2 run for Yale, did you see maybe that was slipping a little bit for you guys?

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Not so much the face, but our -- Grayson was in a zone there. Like he -- whoa -- and when he hit the last one, he came back, and he didn't know who he had, and he was in la-la land, and that's what I saw. They got open, and then he commits that dumb foul. I mean, he fouled in the last -- like what are you doing?

So it wasn't like it was a face of neglect or scared or anything, it was just la-la land, like where are you, man; get back in the game.

It's tough to change that. We're young, and so we acted young. They're old, and they acted old, and it produced that second half. They were good, though. They were really good. And then we helped them.

Look, I know that's the last question. I want to thank the people here in Providence. What a great setup. I know there's so many volunteers. This was a great site. We were treated unbelievably well. So again, thank you, and for all of you, we'll see you in California, all right?

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Coach K Talks Duke vs Yale

354f02d1-42af-41c4-837a-7e211349ed21Duke takes on Yale tomorrow at 2:40 in the Western regional with the winner moving on to the sweet 16.  Here is what Coach K had to say today -

MIKE KRZYZEWSKI - On his freshman and young players. Well, I think the main thing, it shows up when we don't have good talk on the court. Our kids have always -- they have great attitudes and are really easy to coach -- or good to coach, not easy all the time -- but when they get silent, and that's what happens with younger players, they're talking to themselves. They're, what am I supposed to do? How do I feel? I missed a shot. And when they're talking to each other, they get immersed in the game. I thought you could see yesterday we were not talking.

And in the second half, we were talking. It's just a habit we try to teach, but when three of the kids are 18, four of the kids are freshmen, that's something usually an older guy does better. And that's why, as well as Marshall played in that second half, Marshall talked, and that set a good tone for everyone else to talk.

Q. One of the keys to beating UNC Wilmington was slowing them down and making them run offense in the half court, whereas that's where Yale is at its best. What pace would you like to play tomorrow?

I don't think anybody slowed anybody down yesterday. It's 90 to 90 because they kept attacking. Yale will play any pace because they're that good. We're not going to slow them down, and I'm not sure that they will slow us down. I think it'll be a fairly high -- it could be a high-scoring game because they score well, and so do we.

A big thing for us all the time is rebounding. And Yale is a terrific rebounding team on both ends, one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country. We've got to be able to hold our own then.

Q. Obviously yesterday was Yale's first-ever win in school history, but the Ivy has won five tournament games the past six years. Can you speak at all to what the Ivy has done in the tournament, to the strength of that conference?

You know, we follow the Ivy League really closely because Tommy has coached at Harvard and has done such a great job, and he and I are like father and son. We're as close as you can be. In the off-season especially, in the last few years, we've talked about the competition in the Ivy Leagues and how many good teams there are, how many good players. The level of talent in the Ivy League has risen, I think, in the last five or six years, and it's shown with what Harvard has done, Princeton, Yale, obviously. I mean, Yale, they have three first-time All-Ivy players and a two-time Player of the Year.

The Ivy League is a terrific league, and we respect it. Remember, they're going to have -- like, Yale is older. They're not just good, but they're good together. That's the best way to be good because then you know there's another person, other people on the court who've done it at a high level with you. And I think that's what the Ivy League teams have shown.

Q. Is there a way for that respect among coaches and among people in the game to sort of translate into Selection Committee?

Well, the Selection Committee has a tough job. This isn't a football bowl where 70 out of 110 -- you become bowl-eligible as soon as you win your sixth game.

For every coach who coaches in college basketball, it runs until the end of the season. You've got to win all the time. And so that selection process is difficult. So much depends on what you do if you're an Ivy League team in the non-conference. And a number of those teams, Harvard and Yale especially, have tested themselves and gone out and played these tough games. And then if you're successful, if you do a good job, you win. Then you're going to have a better chance of getting two in.

But it's tough to get into this tournament. Every coach who coaches Division I men's basketball knows that. I know even doing the tournament, everyone is about brackets and all that. Look, there's a lot of emotion for each one of these teams. I know people brush it off sometimes and say, well, they busted my bracket. Well, we're sorry. (Laughter).

What about Purdue? What a tough, tough loss.

That's how we end all but one of the teams. We don't have 35 or 36 or 37 bowl winners. We have one team. So it's difficult.

And to my brethren, my brothers in college basketball, my hat always goes off to them because they -- this is tough. And that's what makes the tournament so great. Because it's so difficult to get in, and once you're in, it means so much. It means so much.

So we know what it means to Yale. We also know what it means to us. Everyone wants to always talk about what we've done. My kids haven't done that. For a number of them, it's their first time. It doesn't make any difference how many times I've been in. It's what they're doing right now.

What else captures the whole country? War? Poverty doesn't. Fight against cancer doesn't. The election doesn't. For one month, college basketball unites the whole country. I mean, it's an amazing phenomenon. I mean, for everyone who's ever thought about changing -- should we change it to this? Don't mess it up. Don't mess it up. It's too damned good. It's too damned good.

Q. Purdue, Little Rock early in the year, likely West Lafayette, Duke, Yale. Outside of a neutral court, what makes the NCAA Tournament such a great neutralizer?

It's all about match-ups. The neutralizing thing is for the teams from the big conferences -- you only get one and maybe two champions, so you have a bunch of teams in who are good and have gone through a gauntlet in the conference. But they haven't experienced being a champion.

I haven't counted it up because I'm coaching my team, but how many champions there are. Obviously every automatic is a champion, and that brings a different -- that's a neutralizer. In other words, those kids from Wilmington, they were double champs. They've been accustomed to walking out on the court and winning. Their ego is good. It's collective. They're together. Their faces were unbelievable. And that's a big neutralizer.

They're usually a little bit fresher than some of the teams because they've been the best team. And at this time of the year, mental, physical, and then accomplishment, I think those are neutralizing factors in the tournament.

Q. Did you recruit Makai Mason in any way, shape or form? And if you did, can you tell us how that all went?

Yeah, well, we knew of Makai and his background. He's grown up in basketball. I'm not sure that we would have recruited him. I'm not saying we would have offered him -- but there's a kid playing for Minnesota right now that we -- named Tyus Jones, who would be a sophomore right now. You can't recruit unless they increase the number of scholarships.

But no, we were very impressed with him, and we're not surprised about what he's accomplished. We've been fortunate, there are a number of kids that we have looked at or not recruited that ended up being really good players, and he's really good. But Tyus, that commitment that we had to him, we didn't look at any other guards. Actually we didn't look at any other guards for a couple years.

Q. On Makai, how are you planning to stop him on defense after everything that Baylor threw at him didn't seem to work? He scored a career high 31 and really shot down their zone in the first half.

Yeah, I don't think you go into a game thinking you're going to shut down anybody, anybody who's good. What you hope is to make it as difficult as possible for their team, not just one guy, and that's what we're trying to do. I mean, our game plan is not going to be to stop one person -- because they didn't win the Ivy by one person -- although he played great yesterday.

One of the keys for us is limiting them to one shot, because they get so many offensive rebounds, and then trying to make whatever shot they take, whoever takes it, a lower-percentage shot. And that's how we approach every game.

Q. Players react differently to certain pressure put on them in certain situations. I wonder if you could speak to the way Brandon Ingram reacted to his first NCAA Tournament experience and the way he played yesterday.
MIKE KRZYZEWSKI: Yeah, really well. That's the way he's reacted the whole year. He's been a beautiful kid to coach. We go to him. I'm not sure how many freshmen in the country are isolated as much as we isolate him, because he's -- he can make plays. He can make plays. When he is defensive rebounding -- he did that yesterday, especially in the second half -- but when he gets six, seven defensive rebounds, then he can bring that ball up the court, and that isolates him.

We give him a lot of freedom, and he's earned it, but he's not a nervous kid. He's had an amazing -- a terrific year. A no-maintenance kid, beautiful kid, just a beautiful kid.

Q. The last couple years your team has played a lot of Saturday-Monday quick turnarounds. How does that prepare you for the one-day turnaround in the tournament?

That's a good question. We get a lot of that. You end up not knowing what Sunday is, which is too bad. It's too bad. Really, what is exacted from a youngster who plays, at least in our conference, is a big commitment because they hardly ever have a true day off for a number of weeks. Because even if you give them a Wednesday or a Tuesday off, it's a school day, and they can't get away from it.

People make a lot of money, and again, I make a lot of money -- and I'd make a lot of money if we didn't have the TV contracts -- but for college sports, they make a lot of money, and so Saturday-Monday is a necessity.

But it does help you prepare for something like this, because, like, in between games, what we've been doing for the last two months, or month and a half, has been kind of like the NCAA Tournament as far as rest and preparation.

Q. A lot of people were talking about Yale versus Duke and the academic rigors. You went to a place that was pretty rigorous for college. How hard is it to do that when you look around and you see kind of what your guys are going through and what probably the Yale guys are going through. How much do you admire that?

Well, I admire it, and I would hate to characterize that Duke and Yale are the only two schools that have kids who are going to school and going through the rigors of academics and athletics or the opportunities of athletics and academics. I think it's all about -- whatever school you're at -- is creating a culture where both are identified as important. And then the discipline they learn from handling both of those things, I think, is a huge lesson for these guys.

A long time ago, 50 years ago, when I was a cadet, I looked forward to playing basketball, and it gave me balance along with what else I was doing. I think the tournament is about -- again, you sometimes just focus on kids going pro. But the tournament is about what sport does in combination with academics, and they're both incredible learning experiences. And when they're incorporated together properly, those youngsters are at an advantage, and that's why you would like to see throughout our country the funding that is necessary to keep high school sports there for kids. Because you can learn in the classroom, but when you learn on a field, a court, a pool, a track, it's real. Don't underestimate the impact of sport in education.

When I went to West Point, there's an expression, "Every cadet an athlete." Because they understood that whether you're in an intramural club sport or varsity, because they felt if you were not -- and you had to be a 3 throughout the year. When I wasn't playing basketball, I was in intramural baseball or flag football or doing something -- you can imagine that, huh? Actually a pretty good hitter with a bad pitcher.

But that combination is what this tournament is about, to have that combination of athletics and academics. Anyway, I hope we do a good job and you enjoy watching us play tomorrow. Thanks.